The Elder-Pastor vision for Grace

Pastors Lucas and Jerry will be speaking on Sunday May 14th about the transition from Jerry’s leadership in Children’s Education to Lucas’ leadership as Family Pastor.  During this vision cast, some basics of a plan will be shared along with an expression of needs to fulfill this vision.  I look forward to hearing this vision, and I would ask that you let everyone you know (connected with our church) about this sermon so they can come, hear, and after service ask questions of the pastors (myself included).


I would like to take a moment to help you understand some of the behind the scenes conversations that have been happening for years.  I would also like to make available for you a couple chapters of my Thesis-Project which speak to the need for disciple-making and the biblical method of Jesus and the Apostles.


The questions you might be asking about our model of ministry is: Is anyone doing it that way today? What is “cell” ministry? What is missional community? Why transition from attractional events and program-driven to missional community and cell-driven ministry? Does this mean we stop doing events? Does this mean we stop doing programs? How does this all work together in children’s and youth ministry?


These are all really important questions.  I know that some of you may feel like we are not providing all the events and programs that we used to, and therefore you might feel like not much is happening at Grace Church.  But oh man, there is so much happening even still.  And with freedom to do it organically, which is awesome.  I heard that a healing happened at the Women’s retreat this past weekend.  Awesome!!! Praise the LORD!  And our chosen method of ministry allows for more freedom, decentralization so that catalytic leaders can lead, Holy Spirit led.


Let me explain the history… Starting in Spring time of 2012, I began to hear from Pastors Jerry and Nathan, and Janis our Community Life Director, that our people were burning out because of all the activities and ministries and programs that Grace was providing.  For example, we had at the time 200 adults and 60 kids, and to run Sunday School, Children’s Church, MOPs, and AWANA required 150 different positions be filled (this did not include CR, Grief Share, Wounded Warriors, Home Communities, Stewardship, RAT, CAT, Barnabas Groups, Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, etc.).  So needless to say, many of our adults were involved in 5, 6, 7 ministries a week.  Some perhaps were not involved in many, but for those what taught Sunday school, and needed to skip church to help with the nursery because someone else couldn’t make it that week, and then go to MOPs on Monday, BSF on Tuesday, and help with AWANA on Wednesday, and participate in a Home community on a Thursday……was unsustainable, especially when a Barnabas group would happen on a Tuesday evening once per month.


So I listened to you (those who were feeling fried).  And I tried to work with our leadership to fix the problem.  One of the things I noticed is Pastor Jerry was “filling slots” for children’s ministry 20 hours a week.  So half of Jerry’s job was making phone calls to make sure all the children’s worker positions were filled.  And then that Sunday someone would forget, and so he would have to make emergency phone calls and eventually end up downstairs himself, not partaking in worship.


The role of a pastor, biblically, is to equip the saints to do the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16), which means discipling people.  But because he spent half his job recruiting, he wasn’t able to put in the time to train people for what they were doing in children’s ministry.


In January 2015, Jerry had such severe pain in his neck and head that he ended up in the ER.  Similarly, Nathan had the stress related symptoms in November 2014.


We, the pastoral staff, realized we needed to make some changes.  We realized this wasn’t just what staff was facing, this is what you all were facing as well.  This was unsustainable, and not healthy.  So we had an elder-pastor meeting in May 2015, at which time we decided to simplify.


To make things simpler, we needed to put our eggs into one basket and slowly work to transition things so that everything worked together, and to ease the tensions of too many jobs and too few people.  We didn’t have enough children’s workers to fill all 150 positions, and so we ended Sunday school for children.  Without Sunday school for children, it was difficult to have School of Theology for adults, so that ended as well.  We vowed that if we brought back School of Theology, it needed to be more purposeful to enhance discipleship and equipping for ministry.


The basket of which we put our eggs was: Sunday, Wednesday, and Home Communities.  We saw these three ministries as bearing much fruit, and so we vowed that we would narrow our pastor-elder focus to these three in order to do these ministries well and with excellence.


We have discovered that while we simplified things a little, it was not enough.  Certain ministries were still not working together, and we still had about 140 slots for children’s ministry to fill.  People were still feeling under-the-gun with a lack of training or encouragement.  And we had too many different children’s curriculums of information that we were sending home with parents (and when you have 4 kids and three options of curriculum, it is overwhelming and you begin to pick and choose or just do your own thing).  And so we (pastors and elders) have been talking and praying and planning behind the scenes, and we believe we have a good, solid plan for Children’s, Youth, and how it all works together to help create community, a Christ-centered family here at Grace without burning anyone out.


Here is the vision / plan:


We envision children having one curriculum from Sunday morning to Sunday evening (the AWANA material).


Since there will be one curriculum, this is simplified for parents.  The questions related to what they discussed on Sunday morning will be laid out in the bulletin weekly so that you, as a parent, will know what they learned and can discuss those questions with your children and/or in your Home Community with a break-out session for the kids.


We envision children having an outreach / discipleship time with Pastor Lucas on Sunday evenings called “Youth DNA” in order to have fun, celebrate in worship that is kid oriented, a short less, and kid’s small groups with a wrap-up at the end.


We envision the teenagers helping as apprentices to adults during this time on Sunday evenings, discipled by adults to minister to children.  This will be a skill they can use in life as they grow into adulthood and in college.


For the teens we will have High School DNA on Sunday evenings from 7-8:30pm.


In order for a teen to be involved as a leader on Sundays from 5:30-7pm, it would be required that they have an adult mentor and that they attend High School DNA on Sunday evenings from 7-8:30pm.  We encourage these teens to be involved in their parent’s Home Community as well for a multi-generational connection (and ideally their mentor would be in that group as well for cohesiveness).


For adults, we will begin again School of Theology, but call it Adult Discipleship Classes and they will be more purposeful.  We will have a Leader Track and a Discipleship Track.


The Leader Track will be for the purpose of developing leaders for Home Communities and as potential elders.  These classes will take place on Sundays at 8am, beginning in September (details to come).


The Discipleship Track will be on Sunday evenings from 5:30-7:00pm.  We will have such classes as Alpha, OT Survey, NT Survey, men’s or women’s classes, etc.


All the above is designed to guide our people to work together and do life-on-life together on mission throughout the week.  During the week we are encouraging people to join a Home Community near you.  The goal is to develop multi-generational communities of people who become like family to one another, serve each other, and see the hand of God at work through them as they seek to be Holy Spirit led.

Some of the Holy Spirit led activities of people connected through a few different Home Communities is women meeting each other’s’ needs, organically, through the Women of Grace Facebook page.  A lot of the older women in our church may not know what is going on, but the younger women are meeting each other’s’ needs on a weekly and daily basis.


For example, we had a women who was sick, she wrote on the FB page about what was going on and about 10 women stepped up totally on their own to make meals, do childcare, and help care for this woman.


This–happens–every–day I am told by Katy and Janis.  PRAISE HIM!!!


There is a lot happening that no one knows about.  PRAISE Jesus!!!


Also, many of the women leading MOPs, they have been doing this for a while and are realizing they can do the same thing without some of the restraints of the MOPs administrative hoops to jump through.  And so they will be doing, basically the same thing, but under a different title.  I think this is greeaaaattt!


I love what is happening.


And I love what will be happening in children’s ministry as well.  Pastor Luke is a passionate man.  He is just the type of guy you want your children to have as a mentor to look up to.  He is living it.  He really is.  And Victoria is a wonderful Administrative Assistant.  She helps complement Lucas in many ways.  Together with Pastor Jerry they will be putting together a C.A.T. team in the next month to help them with all of what children’s and youth ministry entails.  And their plan will be explained Sunday.  And we need your help. This new plan will require half of the workers that we needed before.  Praise the Lord.  This will make ministry more streamlined, and make it easier for Luke to equip the leaders to do the ministry.  With your help, this will be an effective tool to train up our children in the Lord.


I ask that you come this Sunday to hear what Luke and Jerry have to say. That you do what you can to help support them, even if it is just a work of encouragement.



You-are-valuable, Grace Church friends.  I value you.  And I look forward, more-and-more, to all of us being able to work together more-and-more in multi-generational community.



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